Working with Syrian government forces to combat ISIS can only happen within the framework of a credible political transition for Syria, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday.
Earlier Fabius had appeared to suggest President Bashar al-Assad’s forces could be used to battle ISIS militants, which would mark a departure in the Western position that the Syrian leader must step down. Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem cautiously welcomed Fabius’ earlier comments.
In a statement clarifying the French position, Fabius said: “The cooperation of all Syrian forces, including the Syrian army, against Daesh is obviously welcomed, but, as I have constantly said, it will only be possible in the framework of a political transition.”
Daesh is another name for ISIS, which controls swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Friday welcomed the proposal by his French counterpart to include the Syrian army in efforts to battle ISIS jihadist group.
Diplomats were not immediately able to clarify Fabius’ comments. However, they said he has indicated in the past that Syrian government troops could be used to fight ISIS once a national unity government was in place.
“If we want to go towards a free, united … Syria, it cannot be he (Assad) who is at the origin of 300,000 deaths and millions of refugees that can lead that… Assad cannot be the future of his people,” Fabius also said.
Meanwhile, Fabius said destroying ISIS’s Raqqa headquarters is the main objective of the international military campaign.